COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

22 July 2021 | Business

BHP considering exiting oil business

Global miner BHP Group is considering getting out of oil and gas in a multibillion-dollar exit as it looks to speed up its retreat from fossil fuels, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The world's biggest miner is reviewing its petroleum business and considering options including a trade sale, the report said, adding that the deliberations were still at an early stage and no final decision has been made.

Mining companies around the world are under growing shareholder pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and take stringent climate actions to cut emissions, as calls for a shift towards cleaner forms of energy accelerate.

Analysts at RBC said they valued BHP's oil and gas portfolio focused on the US Gulf of Mexico, eastern Canada and Australia at US$14.3 billion.

"With rising ESG (environmental, social and governance pressures facing the industry, but also as this business potentially enters into a re-investment phase, we can see why management might be contemplating an exit," they said in a note.

Considering options for the oil and gas portfolio is part of BHP's scenario planning, said two banking sources, who declined to be named as the talks are private. -Nampa/Reuters

SAPREF refinery started operations

South Africa's largest crude oil refinery, SAPREF, will begin restarting on July 21, after temporarily shutting down as a wave of violent looting swept across the country, the operators said in a statement on Tuesday.

The refinery, situated in the east coast port city of Durban, shut down last week due to violence that claimed more than 200 lives and caused billions of rands worth of damage.

A 50/50 joint venture between BP and Shell, SAPREF has a nameplate capacity of 180 000 barrels per day and accounts for around 35% of the refining capacity in Africa's most industrialised economy, a net importer of petroleum products. The refinery restart will take between 7-10 days to be completed, the operators said. - Nampa/Reuters

United Airlines revenue tops estimates

United Airlines reported its sixth consecutive quarterly loss on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic, though revenue quadrupled from a year ago and topped estimates with a strong domestic travel rebound.

US leisure travel has nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels as more people fly for vacation or to visit friends and family following a massive nationwide vaccination campaign.

Chicago-based United said it will continue ramping up flying in the third quarter and forecast its total unit revenue comparing sales to flight capacity for the period will be higher than the same quarter in 2019, a turning point for the airline.

The company said business and long-haul international travel, to which it is more exposed than rivals, accelerated faster than anticipated, and it expects a full recovery in demand by 2023.

United's adjusted net loss narrowed to US$1.26 billion, or US$3.91 per share, in the quarter, from US$2.6 billion, or US$9.31 per share, a year ago. Analysts had estimated a loss of US$3.94, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. -Nampa/Reuters

Air Canada says it has enough pilots

Canada's largest carrier Air Canada said on Tuesday it has all the qualified pilots it needs to meet higher travel demand with the planned return of US tourists to the country.

Canada on Monday said it would allow fully vaccinated US tourists to enter the country starting from Aug. 9, after the Covid-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented 16-month ban.

A rapid return in traffic can create staffing headaches for carriers which cancelled thousands of flights during the Covid-19 pandemic when demand plummeted.

Some US airlines scrambled to re-train pilots whose flying credentials expired during the pandemic as the carriers raced to meet a surge in summer travel demand. American Airlines, for example, trimmed its July flying due to overall labour shortages.

Air Canada has 600, or around 15% of an estimated 4 000 pilots on furlough, according to the Air Canada Pilots Association.

Montreal-based Air Canada said by email the carrier took steps during the pandemic to keep pilots in the air, such as by having three pilots instead of two on some flights. -Nampa/Reuters

Netflix provides weak growth forecast

Netflix Inc provided a weak forecast for customer growth in the current quarter as the streaming video pioneer faces growing competition, the return of movie theatres and a lifting of pandemic restrictions that had kept people at home.

The company's shares dropped 1.6% in after-hours trading on Tuesday. Earnings per share for the quarter came in at US$2.97, below the average forecast of US$3.16, according to analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Netflix is weathering a sharp slowdown in new customers after a boom in 2020 fuelled by stay-at-home orders to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. The company projected it would add 2.6 million customers from July through September. Wall Street had expected a forecast of 5.5 million.

For the just-ended quarter, Netflix added 1.54 million customers, reaching 209 million in total. Wall Street had expected 1.039 million new sign-ups. A year ago, Netflix added 10.1 million subscribers in the second quarter.

This year, Netflix felt the impact of Covid-19 on TV production, which left the company with a small menu of new titles. At the same time, Walt Disney Co's Disney+, AT&T Inc's HBO Max and other services attracted customers, and summer blockbusters returned to movie theatres. - Nampa/Reuters

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